Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

When Did FDR and Winston Churchill First Meet?

Franklin Roosevelt 
Verdun 1918
Winston Churchill  
London 1918
They had met only once, at Gray's Inn, London, on 29 July 1918. Roosevelt, then Woodrow Wilson's assistant secretary of the Navy, was on a mission to Europe and stopped in London to attend a dinner for the War Cabinet. Another guest at the dinner was Lloyd George's minister of state for war and air minister, Winston Churchill. Despite some later polite disclaimers, neither man then made a particular impression on the other.

Roosevelt and Churchill— Their Secret Wartime Correspondence (1975)

1 comment:

  1. This from the author & specialist on FDR & WSC relationship.
    He has written a 3 volume work on it - Prof Warren Kimball.


    Their only meeting prior to the war had been fleeting, and offered no hint of a special relationship. In 1918, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Roosevelt spoke at a dinner at Gray's Inn, one of London's ancient, traditional legal associations. Also present was Winston Churchill, a member and a far better known public figure than Roosevelt. Joseph P. Kennedy later claimed that FDR told him the Englishman had been rude, and a "stinker, . . . lording it all over us." Whether or not that injury occurred, insult followed, for when next they met, in August 1941 at the Atlantic Conference, Churchill did not recall having been introduced to the young Roosevelt--something that chagrined FDR enough to prompt him to mention it to his cronies. That tells us a good deal about Roosevelt's ego, but also illustrates that no immediate sparks of friendship and admiration were struck when they first came face to face--whatever embellishment Churchill later put in his memoirs about remembering Roosevelt's "magnificent presence in all his youth and strength."[34]
    Roosevelt ignored attempts by Churchill's publishers in the mid-twenties to arrange for him to review the Englishman's book, The World Crisis, and in autumn 1929, FDR evaded Churchill's attempts to set up a meeting during a visit to New York. With Roosevelt's election to the presidency, Churchill followed his routine practice of cultivating contacts with important people--sending autographed copy of his biography of Marlborough via Roosevelt's son, James. A few years later, Churchill used the same messenger to send the President a sketch of the "currency of the future"--a bill with the dollar and pound signs woven together. But none of those politic courtesies could be confused with camaraderie or early signs of a "special relationship." Nor did Roosevelt respond . . . until World War II intervened. [35]

    NOTES: 34 - Kennedy's retrospective memoir (a dubious source) is quoted in Beschloss, Kennedy and Roosevelt, 200, 230. See also Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins; Wilson, The First Summit, 80-81; Harry Hopkins to Felix Frankfurter, 14 Dec. 1948, Frankfurter papers, box 102, folder 2112. For Churchill's revised recollection of their meeting see WSC, I, 440.
    Elliott Roosevelt, the President's son, and Joseph Lash, who edited FDR's letters, thought Winston S. Churchill and FDR met in Washington on 26 July 1917 at a luncheon. But, as the staff at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, NY, has determined, the Winston Churchill who had a meeting with Woodrow Wilson was an American painter; FDR to Eleanor (she at Campobello Island), 26 July 1917, E. Roosevelt (ed.), F.D.R. His Personal Letters, 354.
    35 - Kimball, Churchill & Roosevelt, I, 23. The Marlborough volume was inscribed: "With earnest best wishes for the success of the greatest crusade of modern times." Churchill's ambivalence about the New Deal was balanced by his praise for the repeal of prohibition.